Sarah Hall, ‘She Murdered Mortal He’

1210 words | 5 page(s)

Sarah Halls titled work, ‘She Murdered Mortal He’ leaves the reader with a sense of ambiguity. This young author has won and has been nominated for many awards for her short writings. She clearly illustrates how the power of fiction can inflict certainty and uncertainty. The point in question; did or did she not ‘Murder Mortal He’.

This short story is part of Halls first collection of short stories, titled The Beautiful Indifference, and was published by Faber & Faber in November 2011. The Beautiful Indifference won the Portico Prize for Fiction 2012 and the Edge Hill short story prize, it was also short-listed for the Frank O’Connor Prize .

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We are often reminded in life that our actions can inadvertently affect others or cause a chain of events to unfold. Is this what influenced the played out scenario of this short story? Or is there a higher reasoning for the events that unfolded? Can the reader come to a solid conclusion with certainty at the end Sarah’s fictitious writings? Perception is often not reality, Hall advertently provided multiple insights as to the possibilities throughout the entire short story. So the question at hand; did ‘she’ murder ‘him’?

I believe that the author’s intent was to produce a conclusion with certainty. But for arguments sake, throughout the story line death was communicated to occur in numerous ways. All of which would be easier to explain and prove. One’s perception and or beliefs could significantly reflect on any drawn out conclusions.

To say that the conclusions are produced with certainty is to say that if the reasons are true, then the conclusion must be true. When this standard is met, it is known to be true. Note, though, that the standard of validity is merely hypothetical—it says that IF the reasons are true, the conclusion must be true; thus, if the reasons are false, then all bets are off. This is just more evidence that form is only part of the story—you also need content, and it will be the content that determines truth and falsity of particular reasons .

‘She’ is the main character presented within this short story. Hall goes into explicit detail when providing the reader with a sense of the surroundings. Location is the regions of Africa, tourists are limited if not rare. The risks of being there were clearly expressed. ‘There were many dangers here; all outlined in the literature she had received from her health center. Since arriving on the continent she had retained a prudent fear of the environment. The disease. The bacteria. The wildlife. ‘ The author goes further to communicate that death on the roads that are closely located near the borders occurs without providing a clear reason as to how or why. ‘She’, clearly is aware of the risks involved with the holiday that was insisted on.

Perception is addressed from the beginning and actually to the end. The holiday vacation was for two people, whom had been within a relationship for some time. ‘She’ was able to sense something wrong and insisted on provoking him until he spilled his thoughts. ‘He’ had concerns that he had felt were strong enough to be communicated and he did just that setting the story line to unfold. Although the author did fail to fill us in on the issues that were of concern. Immediately following the situation, ‘She’ decides to walk away from him and into the jungle, along the beach, then climbing up the cliffs into the headlands finally reaching the settlement where she then went into the tavern that they had been to earlier that day. While on her journey ‘she’ accumulated a companion, a somewhat large dog that was possibly abandoned or homeless. The dog had immediately taken to her, he had sat quietly while she sobbed and traveled at her side while she expressed angry thoughts due to her situation. The dog had begun by first following her, then remained at her side for the short journey, only to lead her to her to her destination. Once there, she beckoned him to go home, that he did not belong to her.

On her return back she was making her way on the same path she had just traveled. Eventually the dog reappeared and nuzzled to her side once again,
You again.
She petted the dog’s head.
Have you been waiting? Look, you’re not mine.
The dog was leaning against her, warmly, familiarly. Its coat in the near darkness seemed cleansed. The dog pressed against her and she put her hand on its back. She had avoided touching it properly before, worried about grime and germs. Now she crouched down and took hold of the dog’s ears, then under its jaw, and rubbed.
Is that nice?
There was a fusty smell to the animal. The muzzle was wet and when she lifted it up to look underneath she could see it was dark and shiny.
Hey. What have you had your face in, stupid?
Something viscous and warm. When she took her hands away they were tacky. She knew, before the thought really registered, that it was blood .

Being the reader of this short story, my immediate thought was that she had no fear of this animal. Even after the fact of finding the dogs face covered in warm blood. She continued on her path back. Once she had reached the path that lead back to the tents, the dog ceased, and refused to follow. Upon her return, she found that her mate had been severely bitten and taken to the nearest hospital.

Reflecting on prior thoughts regarding conclusions and precedents, does it remain true that if reasons depict certainty then the conclusion must be true? In my opinion, I would conclude with the answer no after reading this short story. This couple is in Africa with many wild animals, the retreat is far from civilized. Is it realistic to assume that it was the dog that attacked him? That would have to depend on the perception of the reader in my opinion.

I personally feel a connection with animals often. I believe that they have a sense of understanding human emotions while their intelligence is often misjudged or shorthanded. The question respectfully should be: Was this dog able to sense the woman’s emotions, the reasons for her emotions, and have the capability of reacting hence coming to her defense in a manner that the dog felt was appropriate? The dog followed her and walked beside her. The dog also sat next her while her emotions and words spilled forthright. The dog then guided and led her to her destination safely. To then disappear as she had beckoned him to do so only to reappear covered in blood to guide her on her way back.

The author did a great job providing enough insight persuading the reader to really ponder what was possible or not possible. In my opinion, the perception of the outcome of this short story is dependent on the reader’s perceptions and beliefs. It is my belief that the dog was able to sense the intense emotions of hurt and anguish and was compelled to defend and protect her, hence the content of this story ultimately determined my perception to be true.

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